Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rye-Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple Thyme Pan Sauce

Brady made the best dinner last week. It had been a busy day and it was so nice to have a hot meal and glass of wine waiting for me when I got home. The best part was, the recipe Brady made was one that I have been wanting to make for him for the longest time. I loved the flavor of the apple and the thyme and the dish seemed perfect for our fall like weather. Plus, you really can't go wrong with stuffing!

Rye-Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple Thyme Pan Sauce

*** adapted from A Sweet Pea Chef

Serves 2

For the stuffing:
2 T. butter, seperated
2 slices Rye bread, diced
1/4 c. onion, diced
1/4 c. celery, diced
1/4 c. dried apples, diced
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1/4 c. chicken broth
1 T. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

For the chops:
2 boneless pork chops, butterflied
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper

For the pan sauce:
1 T. butter
2 T. shallots, minced
1 tsp. flour
1/4 c. apple juice
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 T. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400.

Toast the bread in 1 T. butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Once the bread is crispy transfer it to a bowl and then return the pan to the stove. Saute the onion, celery, and apples in the remaining 1 T. butter until soft. Stir in the thyme. Add the vegetables to the bread cubes. Stir in the broth, vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Fill the pocked of the butterflied pork chop with the bread mixture. You may have some leftover stuffing. Use toothpicks to hold the chops together if needed. Saute the chops in olive oil over medium-high heat until brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the chops over and add any extra stuffing to the pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake about 8 minutes, When the chops are done, remove them and the remaining stuffing from the pan and set aside.

While the pork chops are resting, saute the shallots and 1 T. butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add flour and cook 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the apple juice, wine and vinegar. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the thyme, salt and pepper and then drizzle the sauce over the pork chops.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pasta and Spinach Salad

My to-do list has felt never ending these past couple of weeks. Between working at summer camp (thankfully now over) and preparing my new 2nd grade classroom I feel like I may as well have moved into my school building! I thought I'd share a couple of pictures of my classroom to show what I've been up to. I decided on an owl theme this year and let me just say my new found obsession with owls has gotten out of control. They are EVERYWHERE in my room- bulletin boards, book labels, pillows, supply labels, personalized note cards, my desk, etc. 

My classroom library. How cute are the pillows that my mom made?!
 It's hard to read but the lettering says "Look Whoo's in 2nd Grade"and the plaque on the tree says "Ms. Bower's Wise Owls" 

Yes, my mom and I made each and everyone one of these owls!
As a result of the classroom craziness, posting my recipes has ranked pretty low on the list. I have been cooking though and wanted to share the below pasta salad recipe. My mom came across this recipe years ago and we've been making it ever since. It's perfect to serve for dinner or to pack for weekday lunches.

Pasta and Spinach Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

12 oz. bow tie pasta
1/2 c. red pepper, chopped
1/2 c. red onion, chopped
1 (10 oz) package spinach leaves
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
2 c. diced cooked chicken
1/2 c. almonds

1 tsp. ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/3 c. rice wine vinegar
1/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. olive or vegetable oil (I use a little bit less)
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 envelope onion soup mix
2 tsp. sugar

Cook pasta, drain and run cold water over the pasta noodles to cool them down. Mix dressing in a small bowl. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill and serve.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pork Chops with Balsamic-Honey Glaze

The past few weeks have been busy and our dinners have therefore ended up being pretty simple. Sundays dinner of pork chops with a balsamic-honey glaze was no exception. I came across the recipe awhile back in one of those "Eat This, Not That" cookbooks. I love browsing through those cookbooks at the bookstore! They are full of simple and healthy versions of restaurant food. This recipe is low in fat and calories but you'd never know it!

Pork Chops with Balsamic-Honey Glaze
from "Eat This, Not That" Cookbook

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T. butter
2 T. honey
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 thick-cut pork chops
salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, cook the balsamic vinegar, butter, honey, rosemary, and pepper flakes over medium heat. When the butter has melted and the mixture starts to bubble remove the the sauce from the heat.

Prepare a grill or grill pan. Transfer a little of the balsamic glaze to a small bowl and set aside. Season the pork with salt and pepper and brush with the remaining glaze. Place the pork on a medium-hot grill and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Remove the chops and drizzle with the remaining sauce prior to serving.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Shrimp Kabobs

Brady and I went to Kansas City a couple of weeks ago to visit my family and friends and go to the Royals vs. Twins game. On Sunday before we headed back to Chicago my mom and dad made us a great lunch. My dad grilled pork steaks (a family favorite) and my brother and I made shrimp kabobs. My brother came up with these kabobs and they are awesome. I love the combo of sweet and spicy and they are incredibly easy to make.
Shrimp Kabobs

Serves 4
1 pound uncooked shrimp, shellled and deveined
1 package of andouille sausage
2-3 large jalapeno peppers
2 cups cubed fresh pineapple

Heat a grill over medium high heat. Once the grill is hot, put the andouille sausage on the grill for about 5 minutes then set aside to cool slightly. Once cooled enough to touch, slice into 1 inch thick pieces.

Next, cut the top off the jalapeno peppers and use a small paring knife to cut out the seeds inside. Then slice the pepper into 1 inch thick rings.

To assemble the kababs, thread a piece of shrimp, a piece of sausage, a pepper ring, and then a piece of pineapple through the skewer. Repeat two or three times for each kabob.

Grill the kabobs for about 4 minutes on each side.

** If using wooden skewers, soak the skewers in a bowl of water for about 15 minutes prior to assembling the kabobs. This will keep them from burning on the grill.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Zucchini Mint Salad

While Brady and I were in Minneapolis a few weeks back, his parents had the whole family over for dinner. His mom made a great salad and I had to make it again this week. It was that good. The mint adds such great flavor to this easy summer salad and I love how bright and colorful it is.

Zucchini Mint Salad

Serves 2-4

4 cups fresh spinach
1 green medium sliced zucchini
1 yellow medium sliced zucchini
l/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced, separated into rings
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar

In a large bowl, combine spinach, zucchini, onion, mint, olives, and feta cheese. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all dressing ingredients; shake well and refrigerate. Just before serving, toss salad and dressing.